Extend your love

We’ve learned so many things on this trip, and yet there is still so much to become more aware of. Throughout the past week we have been going into communities with the offer of our compassion. We have met beautiful children and unbelievably strong elders, while constantly asking them what their names are and their interests and any question that will allow us to really understand who they are, as we know that the their value and passions are not defined by the conditions they are forced to live with. Poverty does not have a fence built around it. There is no “designated area of caring”. Poverty creeps into so many nooks and crannies all over the place, and there is no way we can say that we are dedicated to ending this vicious cycle without recognizing it in all of its forms.

Whether it is building a house for a beautiful family in the Dominican Republic, or spending time with a kid back home who has so many talents but for whatever reason, circumstance has put obstacles in their way, our attention is needed all over. Our love needs to be exchanged and our connections to each other must be strengthened. We really are all just people who need and deserve the same respect and understanding from one another. 

With a constantly moving mind,

Emily, LiveDifferent Builds Volunteer, World Vision Leadership Trip, 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 26th, 2015

A Complex Reality

Poverty is always a multifaceted story. Whether you are in Nuevo Renacer of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, or Regent Park in Toronto, Ontario, the families, cultures, and histories of the people will always have unique challenges, yet share relatable experiences and perspectives that bring to light the complex reality of living in poverty. 
As I have been within the community of Nuevo Renacer for the last three days, I have seen firsthand the challenges that mothers, fathers, young children, and community members face when trying to access health care, education, adequate shelter, jobs, and ultimately a sustainable future. All of which has been hard. 
Where a mother’s fears of the water from the seasonal rain entering forcefully through the holes in her roof to flood her home, wetting mattresses, creating mold, and forcing evacuation; to the child who waits eagerly to eat their one small meal their family can provide for the day, the challenges seem to diminish all hope for a brighter future. Yet, as I spend more time here, I learn that there are many assets that add to the dynamic story of this particular community. 
Although small and seemingly tucked away, there is a Girls Club and a Boys Club that is run by the community to engage youth in life transforming activities. Then there is the cosmetology program that provides a certificate to students who graduate, enabling them to work in beauty salons located in the larger community. In spite of the heavy presence of litter and garbage brought in by the polluted river nearby, an older man works during the week to collect recyclable items for a modest pay, a profession that not only enhances his life but also the wellbeing of the community. 
Poverty can never be a story told from only one angle. It is one that requires a keen eye and on-going reflection. While Nuevo Renacer’s story may be unique in and of itself, it is not severed from the very real impact that poverty is having on families all around the world- even in our own backyards. 
As I journey with amazing community members this week, and build a house that will radically transform the lives of an extraordinary family, I am reminded that social justice is a commitment that we must make no matter where we are, to shape the story of a global movement towards ending poverty. 
Natasha – LiveDifferent Volunteer – World Vision Leadership Trip, Dominican Republic, 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 20th, 2015

Quick Connections

Today was absolutely amazing. Our first build day was so much fun, working with the team and bonding with the family and the translators. Other members of my team agree that even though we have only known these people for a very short time, the bond we have already created with them is incredible.  Although there is a language barrier, we manage to communicate in many ways. You can tell how welcoming everyone is by their tone of voice, their body language, or even the simple fact that they look at you with the biggest, most sincere smile I have ever seen.

We made a lot of progress with the work on the building today as well. Both teams are almost done the walls! We were absolutely drenched in sweat and covered in dirt, but no one cared because everyone is so passionate about the work we came here to do.  Another thing I love is the fact that the work doesn’t feel like work at all because it’s so much fun.

Something I really love about my worksite is the children that come to visit us. We had so many children that wanted to help us build, or loved to pull us aside on our water break to play with them. There were two little girls today that pulled aside my friend Victoria, and I. They took us to hula-hoop in front of their family, where the family was overjoyed to see us attempt to hula-hoop. By the end of the day, many of us were giving out piggy-back rides and everyone had a smile on their face.

I love it here.

-Hanna, Carson Graham Volunteer, LiveDifferent Build, 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 12th, 2015

A New Extended Family

Amazing is one way to describe today.  In the morning I did the Day in the Life program. Three of us students, along with a teacher and a translator, went to a house in the community to see how they spend their days. We cooked and cleaned and played with the kids. It was a blast! We asked them many questions and, even though there was a language barrier, I still felt so connected to them. They called us their family, we laughed together and for a moment it felt normal to be there laughing with them having a good time.
When they showed us around the house it was an eye-opening experience.  There were holes in the roof, and their bathroom was covered by a tarp. The mother told us that when it rains sometimes the tarp blows away and it is left uncovered. That left me in shock and I lost for words. Thinking that a place that should be private just could not be, and that she could not do anything about it, was challenging. Her daughter was adorable and she gives the best high fives. The thing that stuck out most to me was when we asked her what he would change about her house if she could. She did not reply at first, and then she said she would like it to be bigger so she could fit all five of her kids. 
Today was fantastic; I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings!
– Olivia, Carson Graham Volunteer, LiveDifferent 2015


Author: LiveDifferent